I love a good life hack. Whether it’s a million and one uses for binder clips or the markdown schedule at Target, I adore anything that makes my life easier. Parenting is no exception, and there are certain “hacks” I have learned to make our lives as Mom and Dad infinitely easier.
Jo Frost or “Supernanny” helped us emensily with this when our kids were younger. Teaching our kids to freeze the second we yelled STOP was a game changer. It allowed them freedom while we were out and about but we were still able to keep them safe.
Parenting past the toddler years gets challenging. Kids are too old for time-out. And it seems like anything you read in regards to discipline is about dealing with temper tantrums, threenagers, or how to not yell at our kids. Some say you shouldn’t discipline your kids at all! Parenting isn’t easy folks.
Luckily I have found a sort of parenting “hack” which includes 6 magic words: asked/answered, when/then, either/or. These certainly aren’t hacks in the sense that you do them once and they work perfectly. They do take a little practice. (I swear asked/answered is a daily occurrence in our house.) These techniques need to be established and explained to your kids for them to work best. It is, however, a hack in the sense that they are short simple phrases to help you throughout your day. It hasn’t solved all my parenting dilemmas but I feel much more confident in our day-to-day life.
If your child is constantly negotiating with you, I suggest you start with this tip. You know what I am referring to. You answer your child’s question only to have them come back 10 minutes later to ask again, hoping that it will lead to different results! Or they say they “forgot” your answer.
An example from our home is my oldest asking to go to McDonald’s for lunch. I reply by saying “No, we don’t have any money left if the restaurant budget.” And naturally she will ask a half an hour later, “Can we have McDonalds for lunch?” I reply with “asked and answered.” That’s it. No call back to my earlier reasoning. The first time you implement this tool you will need to say something along the lines of “You asked me this already. I answered. I’m not going to change my mind simply because you keep asking over and over.” This sets a precedent for you to be able to reply “asked and answered” anytime they try to negotiate or simply know the answer to the question they have asked.
Hi my name is Katie, and I have a dawdler. If you have one too, then this technique is perfect for you. Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, was where I first heard of this technique, and she designed it to help reduce power struggles and yelling. I have found it so helpful for kids who need help remembering a routine or who get off track easily. It is a simple statement “When you do X, then you can do Y.”
For example, my older daughter is an early riser and is always up, ready, and playing before my youngest even has breakfast. We have a morning routine: breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, floss, and brush hair. Then you can play. My youngest gets distracted by her older sister playing and it can take her hours to complete on her morning list. I simply prompt her by saying “When you are done with your routine, then you can go and play.” It’s simple, direct, and to the point. It also works wonders if your children constantly nag you, ”When we are done with lunch, then we can go to the park.”
Listening to your children fight is a giant part of not only being a parent, but also a homeschool parent. Add the fact that we are a mostly unschooling family, and I spend so much of my day listening to fights and bickering about what to play next. Either/Or the rescue! This statement is perfect for encouraging cooperation from and between your kids. “Either you do X, or you can do Y.”
I think this is my favorite. Your kids have a choice between two things, both of which are acceptable to you. For example, my daughters were arguing about what they wanted to play next. I approached them and said “Either you play nicely inside with inside voices or you go outside.” I will be honest, I didn’t think it would work. I totally expected a “I don’t want to do either of those,” but praise Odin it worked like rain!! It was a gentle reminder they shouldn’t be yelling in the house. If you feel wild and silly, outside is the place to do that.
This technique is also great for youngsters who are going through the “I can do it myself stage,” but they really can’t. “Would you like to put your coat on first or your boots?” It gives both parent and child a sense of control in a chaotic environment.
Obviously, I’m not a parenting or psychology expert. I wanted to share with you some real life examples of how these statements have helped my family.
What I love most about all these techniques is it keeps you in check as a parent. You will no longer feel like you are constantly lecturing or yelling about the incessant questions, demands, fights, negotiations, and dilly-dallying that happens in your home. It’s so easy to fly off the handle and over explain all of our reasoning to our kids, but with the 6-word parenting hack, you will find yourself speaking much more precise and lecturing less.